Robert Fuller Murray

(1863 - 1894 / United States)

A College Career


I

When one is young and eager,
A bejant and a boy,
Though his moustache be meagre,
That cannot mar his joy
When at the Competition
He takes a fair position,
And feels he has a mission,
A talent to employ.

With pride he goes each morning
Clad in a scarlet gown,
A cap his head adorning
(Both bought of Mr. Brown);
He hears the harsh bell jangle,
And enters the quadrangle,
The classic tongues to mangle
And make the ancients frown.

He goes not forth at even,
He burns the midnight oil,
He feels that all his heaven
Depends on ceaseless toil;
Across his exercises
A dream of many prizes
Before his spirit rises,
And makes his raw blood boil.

II

Though he be green as grass is,
And fresh as new-mown hay
Before the first year passes
His verdure fades away.
His hopes now faintly glimmer,
Grow dim and ever dimmer,
And with a parting shimmer
Melt into 'common day.'

He cares no more for Liddell
Or Scott; and Smith, and White,
And Lewis, Short, and Riddle
Are 'emptied of delight.'
Todhunter and Colenso
(Alas, that friendships end so!)
He curses in extenso
Through morning, noon, and night.

No more with patient labour
The midnight oil he burns,
But unto some near neighbour
His fair young face he turns,
To share the harmless tattle
Which bejants love to prattle,
As wise as infant's rattle
Or talk of coots and herns.

At midnight round the city
He carols wild and free
Some sweet unmeaning ditty
In many a changing key;
And each succeeding verse is
Commingled with the curses
Of those whose sleep disperses
Like sal volatile.

He shaves and takes his toddy
Like any fourth year man,
And clothes his growing body
After another plan
Than that which once delighted
When, in the days benighted,
Like some wild thing excited
About the fields he ran.

III

A sweet life and an idle
He lives from year to year,
Unknowing bit or bridle
(There are no proctors here),
Free as the flying swallow
Which Ida's Prince would follow
If but his bones were hollow,
Until the end draws near.

Then comes a Dies Irae,
When full of misery
And torments worse than fiery
He crams for his degree;
And hitherto unvexed books,
Dry lectures, abstracts, text-books,
Perplexing and perplexed books,
Make life seem vanity.

IV

Before admiring sister
And mother, see, he stands,
Made Artium Magister
With laying on of hands.
He gives his books to others
(Perchance his younger brothers),
And free from all such bothers
Goes out into all lands.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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